BRIN and Research Concerns Become a Tool for Political Interests

Megawati’s appointment as head of BRIN’s Board of Directors reaped criticism.

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, by Ronggo Astungkoro, Febrianto Adi Saputro, Dian Fath Risalah, Rizky Suryarandika

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) inaugurated and took the oath of office on the Steering Committee of the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) at the State Palace, Jakarta, Wednesday (13/10). Among the names sworn in was Megawati Soekarnoputri, who was also appointed by Jokowi as chairman.

Megawati’s appointment as chairman of the BRIN Steering Committee then reaped the pros and cons, particularly regarding Megawati’s political background. A Muslim scholar, Azyumardi Azra, for example, admitted that he was worried that in the future BRIN would become partisan and lose public trust.

“The Chairman of the Board of Directors of BRIN is not in place, the general head of a political party who does not have expertise in research and innovation. It could be that BRIN is a political tool,” said Azumardi when Republic confirmation via short message, Thursday (14/10).

Azumardi said that the chairman and members of the BRIN Steering Committee should be filled by leading scientists or researchers of international caliber. According to him, that is what should be done if BRIN has a serious desire to conduct research or superior innovations that are needed by the nation.

“The chairman and members of the BRIN Steering Committee should be leading scientists or researchers of international caliber. If serious, BRIN wants to conduct research or superior innovations,” he said.

Azyumardi said President Jokowi should have learned from experience when he appointed Megawati as chairman of the Steering Committee for the Pancasila Ideology Development Agency (BPIP). The figure of the general chairman of a political party, he said, made BPIP a partisan and lost public trust.

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“As a result, BPIP becomes partisan and loses public trust. BRIN will also suffer the same fate as BPIP,” explained Azyumardi.

According to him, in the future BRIN will find it difficult to compete. Especially considering that non-ministerial government institutions (LPNK) that have research tasks and functions have been merged into research organizations, all of which are led by task executors.

“Two years is not enough time for President Jokowi to consolidate BRIN into legacyits good, not as messy as it is now. The chaos caused by BRIN is a disaster for Indonesian research and innovation for years, now and in the future,” he explained.

Member of Commission VII DPR RI, Mulyanto assessed that Megawati’s appointment opened up politicization in the world of national research. Mulyanto assessed that the inauguration of Megawati, who is also the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Pancasila Ideology Fostering Body (BPIP), was a crucial point in relation to ideological-political intervention in the world of research and innovation.

“With this condition, in my opinion, there is a wide opportunity for politicization of research. Moreover, the Chairman of the BRIN Steering Committee has considerable authority, including forming a special task force,” said Mulyanto in a written statement, Thursday (14/10).

The PKS politician revealed that previously the experts had asked the President to review the policy of making the BPIP Steering Board Member in detail out-of-office as Chairman of the BRIN Steering Committee. This needs to be done as an effort to prevent the politicization of research within BRIN.

“It turns out that President Joko Widodo did not pay attention to the input of these experts and continued to inaugurate the Chairman of the BRIN Steering Committee from the BPIP Steering Committee,” he said.

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According to him, the appointment of Megawati as the Chairman of the BRIN Board of Directors shows that the Government is imposing itself. Because, according to him, the development of research and innovation is closely linked to BPIP.

This Sesmenristek era SBY added, famous science journals Nature, in an editorial dated September 8, 2021 wrote concerns about political intervention within BRIN, as a new centralized institution (super agency) with an ambitious reorganization, but no clear performance plan.

Indonesia’s innovation ranking in the Global Innovation Index report in 2021 (GII) is also declining. Indonesia’s position is at 87th out of 132 countries. Indonesia is even below Vietnam and Brunei.

In addition, Mulyanto also considered that BRIN’s duties and functions were mixed as implementers as well as policy makers for research and innovation. BRIN even carries out the functions of organizing nuclear energy (ex-BATAN) and space (ex-LAPAN).

“With this big and basic problem, I am pessimistic that this institutional consolidation will go well,” he said.

The following is the order of the BRIN Board of Directors:

  1. Megawati Soekarnoputri as chairman
  2. Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani Indrawati as deputy chairman
  3. Minister of National Development Planning Head of National Development Planning Agency Suharso Manoarfa as deputy chairman
  4. Sudamek Agung Waspodo Suyoto as secretary
  5. Emil Salim as a member
  6. I Gede Wenten as a member
  7. Bambang Kesowo as member
  8. Adi Utarini as a member
  9. Marsudi Wahyu Kisworo as a member
  10. Tri qualified as a member

In Picture: Megawati Appointed As Chairman of the BRIN Board of Directors